On the eve of International Women’s Day, United Nations labor experts decried three decades of failures to close gender gaps in the global workforce and offered a pathway to achieving “a better future of work for women.”

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“With commitment and courageous choices, there can be a quantum leap, so that the future of work does not reinforce the inequalities of the past.”
—Shauna Olney, GED/ILOAIDS

A Quantum Leap for Gender Equality: For a Better Future of Work for All (pdf), published Thursday by the International Labor Organization (ILO), points out that although the large majority of men and women prefer women to be in paid work, “over the past 27 years, the gender employment gap has shrunk by less than 2 percentage points.”

“In 2018, 1.3 billion women were in employment compared to 2 billion men, which means that there were still over 700 million fewer women in employment than men,” the report states. “In other words, women were still 26 percentage points less likely to be employed than men.”

With the new analysis and proposal, released just a day before the global community will celebrate women’s rights, “we know much more now about gender gaps and what drives them, and what needs to be done to make meaningful progress on gender equality in the world of work,” said Shauna Olney of the Gender, Equality, and Diversity & ILOAIDS Branch (GED/ILOAIDS).

“The path is clear,” she added. “With commitment and courageous choices, there can be a quantum leap, so that the future of work does not reinforce the inequalities of the past. And this will benefit everyone.”

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